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Touring a moon-aligned-volcanic-soil coffee farm, Panama.

NERD ALERT.

Now I know the title of this post is pretentious as hell, and really, I don’t mean to be ‘that girl’, but I do bloody love coffee, and if you do too, I hope you will enjoy this post. Yes I’m the type of loser that carries around a cafetiére mug and my own coffee in my backpack when travelling. To take it even further I even WASH myself in coffee daily using a coffee coconut sugar scrub I make with the grounds from my morning coffee. Cappuccino shower ! Told you I was a loser. Wanna be in my gang?

Honestly, shamelessly – the main reason I came to Central America all the way from little old Europe was to drink too much excellent coffee and visit a shit hot coffee farm. A couple of years ago I really wouldn’t have been interested, I didn’t like the taste of actual coffee unless I piled it high with milk and sugar, (would you like any coffee with that milk?) but I persevered! (I enlisted a similar technique with olives) And look at me now..! (crawls out of cappuccino shower on hands and knees)

I did my research and decided that I would visit Finca Dos Jefe who produce Cafés de la Luna coffee, on the road to Volcan Baru, after totally nerding out at just their website. MOON Aligned? VOLCANIC soil? ARABICA? ROAST your own? CLOUD FOREST of Panama? Ok enough.

Finca Dos Jefe produces Arabica bean coffee, as this thrives well above sea level, and further still in volcanic soil. This is in comparison to the Robusta bean, which can grow in slightly more adverse conditions, including close to sea level. Robusta you find is a popular African crop. And honestly it ain’t got nothing on the Arabica.

Finca Dos Jefe farm is just 6.5 acres in size, which I now know is relatively large for a coffee farm. Coffee farms are tiny! Which is why there isn’t a great deal of money in producing coffee. I imagined on visiting such an affluent coffee growing region, that the local coffee shops would be brimming with outstanding cups of the stuff. To make the most cash possible from the beans you grow, you export the best quality coffee you produce to outside buyers, so for example the coffee produced at Finca Dos Jefe farm; ‘Cafés de la Luna‘, is exported to a prestigious German coffee shop and roaster; Woyton Roast Inc.
This theory was beginning to answer my big question of : Why can’t I find a decent cup of coffee in central America?! The best coffee from the best growing regions of Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua is exported, and rarely makes it into the local shops and cafés. BOOOOOOOOOO. Not great news for a coffee drinker in Central America, but luckily on this tour I was going to get the opportunity to roast and take home my own Cafés de la Luna beans. So, this meant making my own top shelf local Arabica press every morning in that little travel cafetiére of mine.

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

On touring the picture perfect mountainous Finca Dos Jefe farm, I found myself hanging on every word the enviously knowledgeable local guide Amy was telling us. We firstly were introduced to the coffee ‘cherry’, in it’s original form picked ripe and red from the tree (it looked a lot like a cranberry), to the inside seeds (beans) which are moist and slippery, to the then dried and finally, roasted version. The outer skins (husks) of the dried cherries when brewed with hot water make the most delicious tea, which used to be the cheap off-cuts that the pickers would brew up to drink as a tea. These days ‘coffee cherry tea’ is becoming a delicacy, with demand growing worldwide. It contains just 20% of the caffeine compared to the bean, and I was surprised with how sweetly delicious it tasted.

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Coffee ‘cherry’

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Dried coffee ‘cherry’

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

The slippery raw coffee beans

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Dried coffee ‘skin’

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Sun dried coffee ‘cherry’

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Sun dried coffee beans

The coffee 'berries'

The coffee ‘cherries’

The sun drying coffee 'berries'

The sun drying coffee ‘cherries’

The drying 'berries'

The drying ‘cherries’

Now for the science bit: Cafés de la Luna uses the ancient practice of farming in alliance with the lunar calendar (the moon), this age-old practice involves certain farming stages to be undertaken in particular stages of the moon, as the moon is linked to all water on our planet including the tides. They believe this practice produces the healthiest trees and so the highest quality berries. Cool huh?!

Once the cherry is a ripened red colour, it is picked, left to sun dry on bamboo drying beds until they reach around 11% humidity content, and then rest for a further three months before being peeled and then roasted. Cafés de la Luna complete all steps of production and roasting right here on their little seven-acre farm. Cafés de la Luna is proud to be Direct Trade, which means the middle man of production is diminished and the farmers receive a greater wage. Fair trade is also a notable stamp to look for when purchasing coffee in a café or shop, Fair Trade being a cooperative that allows the farmers to always receive a retaining wage as a life line in times of climatic variables, poor demand and otherwise. Finca Dos Jefe sells directly to coffee shops and retailers and not through cooperatives, and so they do not require a Fair Trade license.
After many complaints, Starbucks themselves gained Fair Trade status, however you will ONLY be served a Fair Trade cup in Starbucks if you REQUEST one. It is the same price to the customer, but works out more expensive for Starbucks. Sneaky.
So, from now on please always request a Fair Trade cup in Starbucks, or my advice – skip Starbucks altogether and search out a local Fair & Direct trade coffee shop.

We walked around the sunny, quaint little farm, shaded by the generous amounts of fruit trees; papaya, banana, avocado, and I took a deep breath in of this beautiful location, mountains and the volcano in the distance, with in the lead-up nothing but bright green luscious jungle. I had wanted to do this for a really long time.

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Baby coffee plants

Baby coffee plants

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Nerding out

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Dreamy

Tropical flowers - Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama


Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

[caption id="attachment_1334" align="alignleft" width="667"]Papaya Tree Papaya tree

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Sun drying coffee ‘cherries’

Back at the café farm house, we sampled some medium and dark roast coffee before roasting a medium batch of our own.
Amy the tour guide was kind enough to also grind mine for me, and now every time I open up my otherwise bad smelling backpack, a delicious waft of sweet local ground coffee floods my senses. Heaven.

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

in you go little ones – roasting time

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

coffee flavoured dog

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

The 5 stages of roasting the beans (final stage is a medium roast)

Cafés de la Luna Coffee Farm, Boquete, Panama

My own roast

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